As part of a month long holiday, my partner and I did a first stop in Mexico city, to finally visit my dearest friend Daniela whom I have met about 8 years ago. I didn’t have time to do much research about the city; however, I did ask a couple folks from my German class who are Mexican/have lived there about “must see” places, as we only had 4 days there (big thanks to Jaime & Andrea!).
Generally, I would say that Mexico city is more of a cultural trip than anything else, especially for those interested in anthropology (Mayans & Aztecans, etc.); there is also a lot to see in terms of Mexican art/painters such as Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and others.
- As usual, you can organize any trip on a very tight budget or you can spend a lot. Mexico city is quite affordable if I compare it to most places I visited. For this trip, we set a maximum budget of 50$ per person per day for accommodation, food and transport as we were going to spend a month in Central America. Attractions & activities were not included, but even with those, we didn’t divert much from the daily budget.
- I realised recently that I prefer to travel more days and be on a tight budget rather than the opposite.
Which time of the year is best to visit?
Various sources online say March to May. Although they also mention winter can be chilly/rainy, we got lucky as we went in early December and had sun & 25C every day. However, there are huge differences between the temperature during early mornings and evenings (cold) and day time (hot). Most rain happens between June & Sept, so maybe avoid that period.
- From airport to city: Uber is very popular, we used it, it is cheap and generally safe (I was with my boyfriend though, I am not sure if I would have taken it alone); on the way there, we took the metro (basically you need to buy a metro card in the airport and top it up as you go in any public transport station the amount you need)
- Within the city: We generally used the metro and the bus (public transport is super full though at rush hours, 7-9 30 in the morning and 4-7 in the afternoon)
- We booked it on booking.com in the Roma quarter based on local’s recommendation (Roma North or South); just put this quarter’s name on booking.com. This is the expat quarter, full of restaurants and bars, it is safe with beautiful architecture and close to the old town. Do not stay in the old town!
Top places to visit:
- Day 1: Old town: Catedral Metropolitana de la Ciudad the Mexico, Museo del Templo Mayor
- Day 2: Chapultepec Castle, La Condesa quarter, Museo Nacional de Antropologia
- Day 3: Sick with food poisoning 🙁
- Day 4: La Ciudadela Handicraft market; Teotihuacan pyramids (do go early in the morning as there is no shade!); you can get there by public transport like so;
Food & Drinks:
- I was warned to not eat at random places before the trip and avoid drinking tap water/ice cubes because of potential of food poisoning. Unfortunately I was too adventurous, didn’t follow to 100% the advice and got sick. If this happens to you, try to get liquids and electrolytes (and just let the body clean itself)
- I must say the food was excellent though and Mexico city has a reputation for it. I will let you decide which place to go to based on Google maps reviews & budget. A few of the places I ate in (mostly vegetarian): Akarma Vegan, Vegamo MX, Veguisima, Cabrera 7 (not just vegetarian); Desserts: Panaderia Rosetta (guava bread)
- Places suggested by my friends with experience in Mexico: El Parnita, Lalos, Churros el Morro, Azul Historico, El Cardenal
- More places recommended by them: Puntanera centro historico, Fonda Fina, Palmares Azotea, Chuchito Perez, Contramar, Cerviceria de barrio, Merotoro, Mercado Roma, Xampaneria, Gin Gin Roma, Mercado del Carmen, El Vilsito, Tacos Hola
Where can I get souvenirs?
- La Ciudadela handicrafts markets
- I got one of the famous Mexican dolls 🙂
- Do keep in mind the high elevation/altitude on which the city is situated, so keep hydrated and put sunscreen on.
- SAFETY: follow common sense traveller’s advice and try to blend in with the way you dress and what you have on you (avoid huge cameras, etc.). We had no problems, but we mainly went out during the day light in touristy places, except for one evening when we walked around Roma quarter where we were staying (but this is the safest expat quarter, so it is expected to be ok).
- Pills to take with you: electrolytes, charcoal tablets for indigestion; smth to deal with diarrhea and vomiting if it lasts for more than 24h – it did actually happen to me but my doctor said to just let it take it’s natural course and only to start taking smth if it doesn’t stop after 24h (besides electrolytes & water)
What I didn’t manage to do and is still on my list:
- Visit Coyoacan area (Mercado San Angel, Frida Cahlo house)
- Other museums such as Palacio de Bellas Arte (in more detail), Contemporary art museum
- Of course, there are other parts of Mexico I would like to visit, hopefully one day 🙂
How to be a more eco-friendly/ responsible traveller
- Bring a refillable water bottle, a reusable spork/plate/container from home so you don’t have to take plastic ones, we have this one; get a metal or bamboo reusable straw
- Don’t accept plastic bags regardless of what you purchase; bring on your trip a couple of reusable cotton bags instead or a backpack
- Buy locally produced items (food included)
- If you can, take trains or buses instead of planes; take public transport instead of car rentals if you can
- Take shorter showers & reuse the same towel as much as possible
- Eat less meat, especially beef